|Product Details |
Thames & Hudson
From Library Journal
The mystique and memory of Route 66 have spawned an industry based on adventure, the open road, and the great expanse of America between Chicago and Santa Monica, CA. This reviewer confesses to searching out obscure parts of Route 66, "The Mother Road" (Steinbeck's name for it), in the California desert. Such a search should be led by Kittel, a German photographer with special observation skills and an exquisite talent for composition. In a volume that moves from the flat Midwest to the astonishing Southwest, Kittel is careful to let changing topography serve only as a tantalizing backdrop to what people built and preserved or abandoned beside the asphalt of Route 66. Each photograph deserves a few minutes of the viewer's time while its story becomes clear or, just as often, resonates as perfectly absurd in cafes and souvenir-shop interiors, reminding us that this roadway runs through a land of individuals. Unfortunately, this friendly appreciation is marred by the leaden cliches of Bloom (history, Wheaton Coll.), who must be more effective in the classroom than as a hitchhiker offering a useless text on Kittel's journey. Equally clumsy prose comes from Langer, photo and travel editor of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, whose writing here is translated into English. Otherwise, this glorious American book about a road and its endless (visual) possibilities is recommended. David Bryant, New Canaan Lib., CT
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
San Francisco Chronicle, 12 May 2002
[O]ne of the better books about America's 'mother road'.... enough to make you weep for lost time and lost loves.
The road that became known as Route 66 holds a unique place in American popular culture. Unlike any other road in world history, this modest two-lane highway has taken on cult status, bound up with American nostalgia for a past in which life was far less complex and mechanized than it has become at the turn of the twenty-first century. Inaugurated by a group of businessmen in the 1920s, at a time when the automobile was rapidly becoming the main preference for family vacation travel, Route 66's lifespan was short-less than fifty years-but its mythology lives on. Before the advent of interstate superhighways, Route 66 was the main road to the American West, where, it was believed, opportunity and success were waiting. While Alexander Bloom and Freddy Langer relate the curious history of Route 66 in detail, it is Gerd Kittel's extraordinary photographs that tell the story of the road as it is now. Wistful, brutal, and beautiful at the same time, they show what has become of a once powerful symbol of American hopes and pleasures: the wrecks of abandoned automobiles, the deserted diners and souvenir shops, the battered remnants of silos and warehouses, derelict towns, surviving personalities and buildings, as well as some of the views the road offers as it passes through eight states between Chicago and the Pacific Ocean. Anyone who has ever been aware of Route 66-if only from the hit song by Bobby Troup or the television series of the 1960s-will find much to treasure in Gerd Kittel's moving photographs. 83 color photographs.